Warm up and Cool Down

There’s more to a warm up than just stretching. The most common warm up I’ve seen is a quick stretch of the legs and a jog in place, but is that effectively preparing your body for the work to come?

Warming up should include self myofascial release (SMR) along side dynamic stretches.
SMR is what takes place when you use a foam roller. This activates specific mechanoreceptors called golgi tendon organs that cue your muscle to relax.When rolling a muscle slowly roll until you find a tight spot and hold for 20-30 seconds. This amount of time allows the GTO to respond to the tension and relax the muscle.


Now that your muscles are relaxed, it’s time to actively warm them up! It’s important to use dynamic stretches in the beginning of your workout instead of static stretches. Because the goal of a warm up is to prepare the muscles for the work to come, you want to avoid lengthening them too much. Lengthened muscles will produce less force and you risk pulling a muscle. (Read more about the sliding filament theory and length-tension relationships!) A few examples of dynamic stretches include Frankenstein walks, butt kicks, gate openers, inchworms, walking lunges with torso rotation, and arm circles.

After completing the warm up, you’re ready to jump into your workout! But don’t forget the cool down! Too many people (even i’m guilty!) think the walk out of the gym to their car is an accepted cool down… think again! The cool down is where you correctively stretch your overactive muscles. Go ahead and grab that foam roller just like you did in the warm up and follow it up with static stretching. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds.

It may sound like a lot, but my warm up and cool down never exceed five minutes each. Proper stretching before and after exercise will dramatically improve your workouts and help prevent DOMS (my worst enemy). So take the time to warm up and cool down. It’s just as important as your workout! 🙂


Mason Jar Monday!

One of the best ways to lose weight is by monitoring your portions, but measuring all of your meals can be quite stressful! (trust me i’ve been there) So hear me out on this one. My mom and I have converted all of our storage containers to mason jars! It may sound a little extreme, but it has made a difference in the freshness of our food as well as the amounts we eat. Air tight glass containers seal in the flavor of your fruits and vegetables while providing measuring units on the outside of each jar! You also avoid harmful chemicals found in many plastics.

but wait there’s more!

You can even prepare meals ahead of time to store in mason jars! 😀 They are perfect for your busy schedule.

check out these heathy mason jar meals for you to take on the go!

Let me know which ones you tried and how they turned out… Enjoy!

Protein Pops

Giving up sweets, especially chocolate, is one of the hardest things a girl can go through! I always loved baking, but as a personal trainer and nutritional consultant, my favorite past time contradicted my lifestyle 😦 but i didn’t let that stop me! i surfed the web and found all kinds of healthier versions of my favorite recipes! However, this recipe i have for you today is created by me! It’s perfect for satisfying that sweet tooth and getting the right amount of protein you need for your diet!

Summer time is the perfect time to enjoy ice cream and milkshakes! But you don’t want yourself or your kids to indulge in chemically rich, sweet treats. This is my favorite protein shake recipe, however, i poured it into BPA free popsicle molds and let it freeze overnight to make… Protein Popsicles! The following morning I hosted my first group exercise class and passed these out at the end. They were a hit!

1 cup of Almond Milk

2 tablespoons of fresh ground Almond Butter

1 frozen Banana

1 1/2 tablespoons of unsweetened coco powder

2 packets of Stevia or a tablespoon of organic honey

add spinach or kale (spinach has a less noticeable flavor) and sprinkle cinnamon into the mix

you can add ice to give you a few extra servings

Blend ingredients together and pour into popsicle molds! Let freeze overnight. When you take them out to thaw, make sure you place them in warm water before you try and dig them out. Enjoy!

If that’s not enough protein for you, check out my favorite organic protein powder from Garden of Life! It’s perfect with Horizon’s Chocolate Milk. Feel free to share your favorite recipe with me at mariahshawpt@gmail.com 🙂

Mt Leconte Adventure (part 1)

hey everyone! First off, thank you to those of you that came to the workout Saturday! We had a blast! 

I am currently on the road to my first backpacking adventure! I will be spending a few days hiking through Mt. Leconte! I’ve never been camping or backpacking so this will be an exciting new experience. I won’t be using my phone (other than taking pictures) but I’ll tell you guys all about it when I get back Thursday!  

I encourage all of you to get outside this week for your workouts! Grab a friend and hit the greenway or take your yoga mat to the park for some peaceful stretching outside. Send me a pic and I’ll feature you on my blog!

Don’t just sit there!

America’s relationship to the couch is a strong, if not a passionate one. I have to admit, after sitting in class all day, I couldn’t wait to get home to sink into my couch and unwind. Good posture definitely wasn’t on my mind!

We all know someone (or might be that someone) who complains about their back. Well, one of the main causes of lower back pain is sitting for long periods of time. Most of us drive, work, or attend school then return home only to sit some more. So you can see why lower back pain is common… but how does your back pay the price when you’re just sitting?

When seated, your hip flexors are shortened, and your gluteals are lengthened. Over time this creates reciprocal inhibition of the glutes And lower abdominals because you are consistently keeping your hip flexors shortened and tight. When the glute max (the biggest of the three gluteals) is lengthened and weak, other muscles that would normally assist it become overactive to compensate for that weak rear end. This is an example of synergistic dominance. Your hip flexors, hamstrings, and quads become prime movers instead of synergists. This creates a postural distortion where your shortened hip flexors tilt your pelvis to the front creating an arch in your lower back. Your lower back (Lumbar Erector Spinae) becomes shortened and tight.

In order to be pain free, you need to activate your gluteals as well as your lower abs. Your Glute Maximus creates hip extension, and your Glute Medius and Minimus create hip abduction.

But before you can turn on your glutes and abs, you must turn off your overactive muscles. So allow me to introduce you to your new best friend–The Foam Roll!

When using the foam roll, you are activating certain mechanoreceptors called Golgi Tendon Organs (GTOs). These guys react to the amount of tension as well as the rate of tension being placed on the muscle by shutting down or relaxing the effected muscle. For example, when you foam roll your hamstringship flexorsquads, and lower back, you are activating the GTOs, allowing your muscles to relax. To foam roll your lower back, simply find a wall and place the foam roll between your lower back and the wall and slowly squat down. Make sure the roll reaches your entire Lumbar spine.

Now that you and the foam roll have gotten acquainted, it’s time to lengthen and stretch the muscles you just relaxed. Here are some highly effective stretches you can perform daily! Quad+Hip Flexor StretchHamstring StretchesCalf StretchLower Back Stretches

Once you have lengthened those muscles, you can activate your glutes and low abdominals using isolated resistance exercises. Standing Hip AbductionStanding Hip Extension, and Bridges are great exercises to incorporate into your workouts! And make sure you strengthen you abs the right way with this exercise progression!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at mariahshawpt@gmail.com